Tolerance Levels

an allowable amount of variation of a specified quantity, especially in the dimensions of a machine or part.”250 parts in his cars were made to tolerances of one thousandth of an inch”

In our business of protection we will often hear statements such as, “you’re only as good as your last detail” and similar assertions. We all know that this is not a proper measurement of someone’s abilities and that we need to consider what our tolerance level for performance is.

Peeler Group International has had the pleasure of serving a particular client that manufactures products for various applications, for our purposes I will say they make widgets. I had a meeting with this particular client one day when things went into a tizzy. Apparently the widgets made for a customer did not meet the customer’s expectations or rather, tolerance levels. The widgets are measured in thousandths of an inch. So in this situation the tolerance level was less than the thickness of a human hair. Hearing the application of this particular widget I was shocked that this was even an issue, yet it was. This widget was to be used for the back of a product that would be most likely be placed in a location that will never be seen. If you or I looked at it we would never even dream of knowing that a gap existed. But nevertheless, our client had to fly a team of people to their customer’s location for three days to discuss a remedy.

This is a subject matter that is of importance to everyone:

  • The client looking to retain a new employee or a third party support company
  • The contracting company that wishes to meet and surpass the client’s expectations
  • The individual practitioner who needs to meet the client’s and employer’s expectations
  • Our own personal expectations to achieve personal and professional goals

So in my initial illustration of acceptable tolerances being met by our client, we can contrast this with your assignment in any given security detail. Although the measured expectation would probably never be seen by the end user it was still found important enough to correct. The same could be said for any position you are placed in on an assignment, i.e. body person, halls & walls, dumpster watch or driver. Everyone has an expectation they must meet. I have stood in some dirty locations of a venue and thought to myself, “well if the ninja assassins come through the boiler system, I have it covered!” Truth is, if the HVAC systems were attacked or failed, I would be in a primary location to prevent or respond and mitigate the issue. What is important here is that you need to know what role you are fulfilling and what the expectations are. But what if you were of the mindset that you are just on engineering room watch and will have all the time in the world to rest, and decided to stay up later than you should have? Would you be ready to go from zero to a hundred miles per hour in short notice? Would you mentally and physically be able to handle an unexpected situation and perform to the best of your abilities? Probably not.

Let’s look at this from a measurable viewpoint by breaking it down. An expectation is set, by whomever, the expectation will not always be met 100% and may often fall short, or in some cases we go beyond expectations. How do we establish a conscious tolerance level, or in other words, performance level? Is twenty, forty or eighty percent achievement acceptable? Or will your tolerance level not fall below 100% achievement? We have all heard the statement, he/she gives 110%, or I will give it a 110% effort, but is this really the case? Have you established what a one hundred percent achievement level is?

I have never claimed to be a math expert however, to be fair we must establish a measurable outcome by assigning a number to the expectations we have. How critical you will be of performance and achievements will be based on the size of the number assigned. To be able to meet the acceptable tolerance levels established, we must be completely informed and understand what each expectation is. If you work for any sizable organization you have an HR Department that has established measurable expectations in periodic personnel reviews, but in fairness, this is not good enough. You really need to know how to measure each day, each assignment, and have conscious tracking of your expectations and how they are being met. With this measurement you will be able to identify what is needed to improve on the future assignments.

In today’s employment situation it is going to become even more important to know your tolerance. Saturation in the protection industry has been taking place for some time and it has become all more important to fully vet and know the capabilities of each person you consider for employment. Added to this is the low unemployment rates and the lack of capable talent. Additionally, you may want one hundred percent success but will you be able to get it? If you cannot, how will you protect yourself or your business from these short-comings? What will your tolerance be? All of this will take investment in yourself and the people within your employ, in training, understanding and through setting proper tolerance’s for the expectations established.

At the end of an assignment we often observe the high-fives and the congratulatory atmosphere which is great for moral. What we need to be cautious of is what the celebration is about, is it that we just squeaked by some fastballs? Or maybe, we were ahead of every fastball and curve balls thrown at us in a measurable manner?


Bill Peeler is the founder and CEO of Peeler Group International



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